SEAN O’Loughlin has put the possibility of captaining England to the back of his mind as he focuses on steering Wigan back on track.
The Warriors host Leeds tonight in an encounter which promises to live up to its ‘Big One’ billing.
Victory would keep them on course for a top-four finish, while a loss could see them slip down the pecking order with a week to go of the regular season.
O’Loughlin goes head-to-head against Kevin Sinfield, the player he has been backed to succeed as national skipper.
But the 31-year-old’s priority is helping the champions gain their first victory since July.
He said: “We want some consistency going into the play-offs – that’s more important than league position.
“We did it from fourth last year without having the best run-in, but ideally you want to have played a couple of good games going into the play-offs and we have an opportunity to do that.
“We play two class sides, Leeds and Warrington, before the play-offs.
“And whoever we play first up, whether it’s home or away, we want to have played well and got the confidence back in the side.”
O’Loughlin’s name has been thrust into the spotlight this week as a contender to take over the England captaincy. Coach Steve McNamara is not expected to name his skipper for the Four Nations tour Down Under until next month.
“To get your name mentioned is nice, but it’s not something I’ll worry about,” said O’Loughlin.
“International-wise I’ve missed a few years, so the main thing for me is just to be playing – the captaincy would be second to that.
“I’m definitely keen to tour. To captain your country would be the pinnacle of your career, but that’s a long way off for me at the minute.
“If I do get picked to go on tour, the next two weeks and the play-offs is what will get me there.”
Canterbury’s James Graham – a past England captain – is another contender, as is ex-Wigan No.1 Sam Tomkins.